Howdy folks! As every day of training camp rolls by, there will be threads of live analysis as well as posts of practice notes here at Bleeding Green Nation. I’ll be providing commentary and analysis on three plays that stood out to me as noteworthy reps, with some notes from the players as well on their performances. Please note that these are just practice reps, and not worthy of overreaction.
Play #3) Jeremy Reaves/Malcolm Jenkins v. Dallas Goedert
Today was a great day of camp. Tons of energy, competitive fire, and also a good deal of teachable moments among the players. I caught Jalen Mills and Nelson Agholor discussing release technique as the line of scrimmage; Jeremy Reaves and Tre Sullivan grabbing Rodney McLeod and Coach Undlin to discuss their responsibilities near the goal line. But the best look was Jeremy Reaves and Malcolm Jenkins discussing rush technique as the SAFs/LBs went against TEs/RBs in pass protection drills.
Malcolm Jenkins helping teach Jeremy Reaves to turn a corner. That's the guy to talk to for a young player like Reaves. pic.twitter.com/XfOO4Tsn26— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) August 2, 2018
“The biggest thing is about leverage,” Jenkins said of the lessons after practice. “Showing them the different types of styles that the offensive guys will use. You’ve got some guys who are really aggressive, some guys who will sit and wait, so you’ve gotta know your match-up and have a plan before you go up there.”
You can see how Jenkins is emphasizing the flipping of the hips at the point of contact, which, in combination with the swipe, puts the rusher on a straight path to the quarterbacks’ set point. Reaves also said of the notes: “I kinda knew about [the move] already, but he was telling me ‘You don’t have to get your feet all the way off the ground; it’s gotta be quick’.” So not only was Jenkins able to instruct Reaves’ technique—he had watched Reaves’ previous reps closely enough to know the issue that needed addressing. That’s awesome for the vet.
The tips worked wonders for Reaves, who executed the exact style of swipe/flip on his next rep against Dallas Goedert, who’s no slouch. That got Jenkins and Reaves likewise excited—and immediately, fellow UDFA safety Ryan Neal went up to Jenkins to ask for the same coaching point.
There’s a bevy of safety snaps to go around, with Chris Maragos sidelined and the Eagles experimenting with three-safety sets on the first team. Jenkins said he’s been impressed by everyone (pfft), but the fact that he’s so attentive to the young players’ reps shows how willing he is to train up his backups. It’s awesome stuff.
Play #2) Jordan Mailata v. Corey Nelson/Kamu Grugier-Hill
Mailata isn’t good right now. That’s important to remember. With every good note you get, you’re not getting four or five on which he stalemates/loses reps that a player of his size/athleticism could have easily won. And that’s still—and will be through 2019—totally fine.
But Mailata had a nice outing today, which serves as a comforting reminder of what he could potentially bring in the years beyond. Two plays stood out, both running plays—Mailata told me he’s more comfortable as a pass-protector than a run blocker right now, but I’m not sure I agree with that assessment. On the first, Mailata immediately climbed to the second level on a trap block release, catching WILL Corey Nelson flat-footed and reading the backfield jumble. He hit him like two tons of bricks, easily displacing him to the opposite hash. Big gain for Josh Adams.
On the final play of goal line reps, Mailata again climbed into space to take on Kamu Grugier-Hill as the SAM. Grugier-Hill tried to come down on Mailata with physicality to hold the edge (technically the correct choice) but good gravy Mailata just plastered him. Mailata’s explosion through one/two steps as an offensive linemen is just plain stupid, and Kamu felt it on this rep. Again, Adams was able to hammer into the gap paved by Mailata to score.
“It’s nice! It’s nice to get something done right.” Mailata said of his feeling after he knows he killed a rep. “Especially because the ones and two on the defense were really hyping themselves up, and that was working me up. I really wanted to get the touchdown.”
OL Coach Jeff Stoutland stays locked in Mailata on almost every third team rep, and they talk in the interim between plays. Mailata calls their relationship “Hate and love,” not love and hate, because Stoutland “hates [him] first, then he loves me.” It’s clear that Stoutland feels responsible for guiding Mailata through the long and treacherous developmental path that awaits him. Of the Josh Adams touchdown run, I asked Mailata if Stoutland had anything to say.
Play #2) Kamu Grugier-Hill v. everybody (except for Mailata that one time)
My pre-camp prediction for WILL was Corey Nelson, and I like what I’ve seen from him. But boy oh boy Kamu looks really strong out there—and the coaching staff loves getting him in first team reps. He’s the clear leader in the clubhouse, especially after today.
In one-on-one pass rush reps, he took Corey Clement—by far the best pass protecting RB—for a ride; next rep, he blew by Richard Rodgers—the best TE—without hesitation. He’s got really nice bend around the EDGE; I think we all understate his athletic ability out there.
Then, goal line reps. As on on-the-line SAM, he shot a gap for a TFL; did it again and forced a huge redirection pile-up that led to a TFL. A few plays later, and he won the corner against Halapoulivaati Vaitai for a pressure. And then in coverage: he followed a little flare route from Donnel Pumphrey into the shallow flat, read the QB, flipped his hips and closed on the corner route behind him. Richard Rodgers had to break up a would-be interception.
Note: every time Kamu makes a good play, the defense (especially the DBs) start chanting out “ka-MUUUUUUUUUU! ka-MUUUUUUUU” but you don’t really hear the “ka” so it just sounds like they’re mooing in elation.
It was a Stefon from Saturday Night Live sorta day for the young player. A great way to earn a key roster spot is to show how much you can do on the field, and Kamu had it all—pass rush reps, run reads and tackles, and pass coverage. If he looks good in the upcoming preseason game (one week away!), pencil him in as your Week 1 starter at WILL.
(I mean he’s gonna start anyway because Bradham is out and he’s clearly one of the best linebackers here but you get the point.)